Report: Arizona sees high turnover of local election officials since 2020 presidential election

Sep 27, 2023, 4:25 AM

Arizona's Secretary of State Adrian Fontes...

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A new report from cross-partisan organization Issue One has found about 55% of the chief local election officials are new since the November 2020 presidential election.

Turnover rates among local election officers are higher than expected particularly in battleground states where officials have been targeted by death threats and harassment, according to the report.

Issue One conducted a regional case study which found half of the 76 million Americans who live in the western portion of the U.S. will have a new chief local election official since the 2020 presidential election.

Arizona is seeing the highest number of turnover among election officials and 80% of the state’s county has at least one new chief local election official, the report stated.

In an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM, Adrian Fontes, the secretary of state for Arizona, explained why many election officials left their positions.

“Well, it’s significant in this big election year that so many bad actors have with false accusations driven away some of the folks that have best served the democracy that you know supports this Republic,” Fontes said.

“They’re operating through lies and conspiracy theories and misinformation and that’s not what a lot of these folks bought in for. They have done great work for decades in some cases.
And it’s just the threats and the bad behavior of just been too much for a lot of them frankly in a lot of cases. I don’t blame them for leaving.”

Fontes noted that 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties have lost one of the top two election officials since 2020.

While many local officials have left their posts, Fontes said his main concern isn’t all the new faces but the lack of experience and human error might come into the mix.

“But I think this is a greater sort of an effort by these authoritarians and you know these MAGA fascist types who just want our systems to crumble,” he said.

“They’ve been working real hard to drive good people away and sadly they’ve been succeeding to the detriment of every other Arizona voter all the lies and conspiracy theories. They just got to stop.”

Fontes went on to say he is hopeful the new officials will come in and fight real hard.

Heading into the 2024 election season

Fontes said there are still a few counties in Arizona that have openings and some critical positions.

“We’re doing our level best to recruit nationally and help drive folks into these offices. We are making some contingency plans here at the Secretary of State’s office to do a weekend to support our counties who are doing the best that they can,” he said.

“Let’s let’s give credit where it’s due. There’s still plenty of really really good people out there doing their level best to make sure our elections go. Well. I think we’re still going to be in good shape. But we are preparing just in case we’ve still got holes to fill down the road.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ben Brown contributed to this report.

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Report: Arizona sees high turnover of local election officials since 2020 presidential election